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The roots of the Lithuanian NavyAlthough the origin of Lithuanian Navy dates back to the period between World War I and II, the history of the evolvement in naval battles exited earlier. Baltic tribe Aistians that settled down in the Baltic Sea shore built ships and used them for trade as well as for war fighting purposes. Furthermore, according to annals, in 13 century other Baltic tribes, the Coronians and Samogitians tried to destroy the castle of Riga coming by ships. It is also known about Lithuanians' victory in the ship battle in Nemunas River at the time when duke Vytenis ruled Duchy of Lithuania. The loss of territories near the Baltic Sea had a negative impact on Lithuanian's maritime development.
Ship "Prezidentas Smetona”
Captain (N) A. Kaskelis (center) and ship's crew
The establishment of Lithuanian Navy
After the World War I Lithuanian Government attempted to establish maritime defense force. However, due to various political and economical reasons the maritime defense force was only partially implemented.
In 1923 Lithuania regained the control of Klaipeda harbor and gradual development of maritime defense force started. The purchase of mine sweeper in 1927 was one of the first significant steps to implement Lithuanian Government aims. The ship was commissioned as the training ship ”Prezidentas Smetona" (”President Smetona"). Captain Antanas Kaskelis was assigned as ship's commanding officer. Several small boats carried out patrol duties in Klaipeda harbor. Naval officers were educated abroad.
On the 1rst of September 1935 chief in command of Lithuanian Armed Forces General Stasys Rastikis officially established the Lithuanian Navy as a branch of Lithuanian Armed Forces.
The impact of the World War II on Lithuanian Navy
Before the beginning of World War II on the 22nd of March 1939 Klaipeda region was occupied by Germany. Once the war started Lithuanian naval ship was forced to leave Klaipeda for Liepaja harbor in Latvia.
During Soviet occupation Lithuanian Navy was attached to Soviet Union's Baltic maritime defense force. Ship ”Prezidentas Smetona" was renamed to ”Korall" and participated in the sea battles against German Navy. On 11th of January 1945 the ship triggered the mine and sank in the Gulf of Finland.
The development of Lithuanian Navy after the declaration of independence
After declaration of independence on the 11th of March 1990 the main task of Lithuania was the establishment of its sovereignty as well as organization of state's defense system. At that time the units of Lithuanian armed forces were formed. On the 4th of July 1992 Lithuanian Navy was re-established. Juozapas Algis Leisis was appointed as commander of Lithuanian Navy.
In the fall of 1992 Lithuanian Navy procured two light frigates ”Zemaitis" (F11) and ”Aukstaitis” (F12). After crew training period in June 1992 both frigates participated in international exercise US Baltops 93. This was the beginning of the international cooperation of Lithuanian Navy with other navies.
August 1993 Lithuanian Naval force took over 3 sea and coast surveillance stations from Russian federation Baltic fleet. This was the begining of the Naval Sea and Coastal Surveillance Service, which was officialy established 30 July 1996. The establishment of the Sea Coastal Surveillance Service was another milestone in the Lithuanian Naval history.
1997-1999 Frigates „Žemaitis" (F11), „Aukštaitis" (F12), patrol boat "Dzūkas" (P31) and mine countermeasures ship "Sūduvis" (M52) were assigned into the divisions of Combat and Mine countermeasures and patrol ships.
2000-2001 two patrol boats "Sėlis" (P32) and "Skavis" (P33), mine countermeasure ship "Kuršis" (M51) were procured, and harbour tug boat H22 was taken over.
On the 1rst of April 2004 Lithuania became an official member of NATO alliance. This had a positive impact on the development of Lithuanian Navy.
2005-2006 auxiliary ship "Jotvingis" (N42) was procured and the harbour cutter H23 taken over.
1 January 2009 new unit of Lithuanian Naval force was established - Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre.
Year 2009 search and rescue ship „Šakiai" with equipment and crew were taken over from Klaipėda port.
Year 2008-2010 patrol ships "Žemaitis" (P11), Dzūkas (P12), Aukštaitis (P14) were procured.
2010-2011 mine countermeasure ships "Skalvis" (M53) ir "Kuršis" (M54) are being procured.